While cigarettes have long been a currency in the prison system, a new study has found that prison ramen is fast becoming more valuable because the food for prisoners is so bad in most institutions.
As reported by CNN, Michael Gibson–Light from the University of Arizona School of Sociology spent 12 months researching an unnamed US penitentiary holding 5000 inmates. He spoke to 50 prisoners and seven members of staff in total.
He found that due to a change in food contractor around the early 2000s and a subsequent drop in the quality and quantity of food available, packets of ramen noodles had become increasingly valuable and were often traded like cigarettes to pay for services and goods. A packet of prison ramen cost $0.59 in the institution in question.
Why is ramen such an important part of the prison diet? Well packets of prison ramen are easy to store, long-lasting and contain a large number of calories to keep inmates going throughout the day. Gibson-Light also suggests his findings are part of a wider trend for food as currency in the prison system.